NEW DELHI: The aviation regulator, DGCA, on Friday directed pilots and engineers to remain alert as locust swarms pose a serious threat to flights while landing and taking off.
In a circular to airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has said generally locusts are found at lower levels and, therefore, pose a threat to aircraft in the critical landing and take-off phase of the flight.
“As far as possible, it is strongly advised that flights should be avoided through any known locust swarm. The only favourable aspect is that locusts do not fly at night, thus providing a better opportunity to sight,” the DGCA has noted.
“Almost all air intake ports of the aircraft will be prone to ingestion in large numbers if the aircraft flies through a swarm (areas like engine inlet, air-conditioning pack inlet etc.),” it said. Flying through swarms can also hit sensors and instruments, leading to incorrect readings, especially unreliable airspeed and altimeter indications.
“Though an individual locust is small in size, the impact of large numbers on the windshield is known to have impacted the pilot forward vision. This is a grave concern during landing, taxi and take-off phase. Use of wipers at times may cause the smear to spread, even more, the pilot should consider this aspect prior to opting to use wipers to remove locust from the windshield,” the aviation watchdog said.
Large swarms can also obstruct visual ground contact over a large area, the agency said, asking air traffic controllers to let pilots know if locust swarms are spotted. Huge swarms of desert locusts are destroying crops across several states, prompting authorities to step up their response.